Bass relishes athletic trainer position

Story by: Franklin Davis, franklindavis@nrcolumbus.com

Samantha Bass is not your typical Columbus County young adult. While many college graduates who earned high school degrees in Columbus County look to move away, Bass is extremely happy to be back home in Whiteville. She also is working in a profession that is still viewed as male dominated, as an athletic trainer.

Samantha Bass is the soon to be 23-year old daughter of Elisha and Bert Bass of Whiteville. A 2012 graduate of Whiteville High School, Bass was the Wolfpack softball MVP twice and also served as a Marshal. She played softball for four seasons at Barton College, graduating cum laude in the spring of 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. Bass also served as a member of the prestigious Barton College Student-Athlete Advisory committee.

Whiteville athletic trainer, Samantha Bass, helps Quinton Smith’s.

Bass spent the 2016-17 school year working at Hunt High School in Wilson. This summer she learned of the possibility of returning to Whiteville to serve as the athletic trainer for the Wolfpack. When the opportunity presented itself, Bass was “very happy to come back home.” Bass said, “I’m the oldest of six children, so I have lots of family here. That was the biggest reason to come back..”

The opportunities for athletic trainers are growing. Football teams are required to have either an athletic trainer or first responder on site. The increased concern over concussions and concussion protocols make the job more important now than ever before. Bass says the advantage an athletic trainer has is specific training in sports injuries. “You go to school for four years specifically trained to identify and in some cases treat and rehabilitate athletic injuries” said Bass. “Part of my training was an internship with the football team at NC Wesleyan where I received hundreds of hours of hands-on experience.” She continued, “Working at a D2 school helped expose me to lots of different injury scenarios. It was very thorough training.”

Bass doesn’t care for the stereotypical idea that an athletic trainer is just an “ankle taper.” She says the job requires much more. Bass is also certified in CPR First Aid and in Oxygen Administration should the need arise.

Whiteville High Athletic Director David Smith sees several positives from having Bass on staff. “Having a certified athletic trainer allows our student-athletes access to a trained professional at practices and games. She also deals with making sure yearly concussion forms are properly administered and signed. Following concussion protocols is a point of emphasis with the NCHSAA. Having someone certified to make sure everything is done correctly is a huge benefit to our program.” Smith goes on to say, “She also relieves some of the duties that our school nurse was undertaking because we did not have anyone else qualified to do them. Just the security of having a certified AT and having them on our campus is a big step forward in the health care of our student-athletes.”

Bass understands that being a female and just five years older than some of the players she treats could have its drawbacks. Bass says, “Boys will be boys, but you set a standard for the level of respect you should receive. You set rules for what is allowed in the training room and the behavior you expect.” She also gives credit to Whiteville head football coach Luke Little. “Coach Little established the expected level of respect from day one” Bass said. “I am called Coach Bass or Miss Bass by the players. The Whiteville athletes have been very respectful.”

Bass maintains an office in the Whiteville High School gym. Her hours vary depended on whether it is a game day or practice. She is very excited about the new field house and the training room.

When asked why she chose the field of athletic training, part of Bass’ answer will ring true with many former athletes. Bass said, “Since my playing career has ended, this job allows me to maintain a connection with sports.” She concluded with, “Most of all it is very fulfilling to see an athlete you are responsible for get back on the playing field.”

County schools ask for trainer also

There have been some detractors of the program from people with children in the county school system who want access to a trainer.

Columbus Regional Healthcare CEO Carla Hollis said Tuesday that an official with the city schools approached her last year about a partnership and proposed that the school system and hospital split the cost of an athletic trainer. Hollis said CRHS plans to assess the program’s effectiveness after one year, then apply for grants to expand the program if it works.

Whiteville City Schools Superintendent Kenny Garland said a similar partnership at his previous job in Murphy worked well.

Whiteville High School Athletic Director David Smith said fellow Three Rivers Conference members in the Robeson County schools work with Southeastern Regional Healthcare of Lumberton to provide athletic trainers.

“The intent was to bring something that’s needed to the schools, where we’re always looking to partner,” Hollis said.

Hollis said she has reached out to Columbus County Schools Superintendent Alan Faulk and will look to expand to a number of athletic trainers to county schools if the pilot program in Whiteville proves successful.